To counter the growing threats from “foreign fighters” travelling to and from conflict zones for terrorist purposes and “lone wolves” planning solo attacks, new EU counter-terrorism rules to be voted on Thursday will make it a crime to prepare acts of terrorism.
The new rules, informally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators in November 2016, will criminalise "preparatory acts" such as travelling abroad to join a terrorist group and returning to the EU, recruiting for terrorism, training or being trained, publicly inciting terrorism or advocating it, whether directly or indirectly through the glorification of such acts, or by providing funds to commit them.
The law also includes provisions on the protection of victims of terrorism, to ensure that victims and their families receive help immediately in the event of an attack.
Parliament’s negotiators also ensured that, for the first time, member states will be obliged to exchange information on criminal proceedings if it could be used to prevent future attacks or assist other ongoing investigations or proceedings.
Note to editors
The new directive on combatting terrorism will replace the 2002 Council framework decision (2002/475/JHA) to keep pace with new developments and emerging threats such as foreign fighters and lone wolves, and also ensure that member states comply with international obligations and standards such as UN Security Council Resolution 2178 and the Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism.
Member states will have 18 months to ensure that the new rules can be applied. The UK and Ireland will not be bound by them, but may notify the EU Commission of their intention to opt in, if they so wish. Denmark will not be covered by the directive.
Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure (COD)
Debate: Wednesday, 15 February
Vote: Thursday, 16 February
Press conference: Wednesday at 16.30 with the rapporteur, the Commission and the Maltese Presidency